David Wolfe will visit the Byron Shire, which has the lowest vaccination rates in Australia. (iStockphoto\naumoid)
Pro-vaccination campaigners are concerned David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe, a self-described “rock star of the superfoods and longevity universe”, will exacerbate vaccine scepticism during his visit to northern New South Wales this week.
Mr Wolfe will speak about “nutrition, wellness and detoxification” at an event in Mullumbimby this week. (Supplied: Facebook)
Mr Wolfe will speak in Mullumbimby, which has the lowest vaccination rates in Australia, on Thursday night.
The internationally renowned conspiracy theorist has more than 10 million Facebook followers and has been outspoken in his stance against vaccination in the past.
On his website he claims that pharmaceutical companies are “in bed with federal government officials”, and “the flu vaccine is even more dangerous than the illness it claims to prevent”.
However, a statement issued on behalf of Mr Wolfe said vaccination was not the focus of his Mullumbimby event.
“David is here to talk about nutrition, wellness and detoxification,” the statement read.
“Our interest as a company and for the event is enhancing all the participants’ health practices and goals.
“We would like to reiterate that the tour is not, nor ever has been promoted as having anything to do with vaccinations.”
Shire criticised over venue
A Sydney council cancelled an event featuring Mr Wolfe at the Marrickville Town Hall last week after being inundated with complaints from residents who disagreed with his stance on vaccination.
Mr Wolfe’s appearance in the Byron Shire was originally planned for Byron Bay, but the event sold out quickly and was moved to Mullumbimby to cater for a larger crowd.
The online advertisement for the event says:
“The most controversial event of the tour.
“David Wolfe goes beyond health to share new findings on how the world really works and how to navigate it.
“Fresh off travelling around the world meeting the world’s most prominent activists, alternative healers, water protectors, quantum physicists, seers and conspiratory truth seekers, David is ready to give Byron Bay the latest download.
“This event will flow into an opportunity to experience an opportunity to party with the Byron tribe; drink next-level tonic elixirs and dance it up to some local music and fly high on the conspiratorial vibes being laid down.”
Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters spokeswoman Alison Gaylard criticised the Byron Shire Council, which has representatives on the board of the Mullumbimby Civic Hall, for making the venue available.
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“The council also runs immunisation clinics, so it’s a bit ironic they’re willing to give this man and his opinions a platform,” she said.
“We feel they’re enabling it to happen and it’s about time they showed us some support.”
Council’s director of corporate and community services Mark Arnold said the council did not have a position on vaccination.
“Our halls are managed by local committees and there is currently no list of who can or can’t hire the public venues,” he said.
“They can be hired for many reasons from entertainment, workshops, information evenings and debates.”
Be wary of views, campaigner says
Pro-vaccination campaigner Toni McCaffery, whose four-week-old daughter Dana died from whooping cough in 2009, said Mr Wolfe’s stance needed to be publicised.
Ms McCaffery lives about 30 minutes from Mullumbimby and said those attending the Thursday night event should be wary of Mr Wolfe’s views on vaccination.
“I think there’s a difference between people that intentionally spread misinformation and parents who are vaccine-hesitant,” she said.
“In the case of David Wolfe, we should point it out for what it is — he is spreading dangerous information.
“All sides of government and health authorities should be pointing that out to warn parents the information they’re hearing is false and misleading and it will endanger the lives of children.
“If a pregnant woman goes to that talk and he tells them not to have the whooping cough booster, that child will be born with no protection, and if that child catches whooping cough they have a one in 100 chance of dying, and in our area that is a very real threat.
“We have whooping cough in our area now.
“Because we have such low vaccination rates, we had four times the rate of infection at the time Dana died.
“Dana was one of four babies airlifted to intensive care in Brisbane at the time, so this is nothing to mess around about.”
‘There’s no truth to it’
University of Queensland virologist Ian Mackay said vaccine sceptics often sought out information from people like Mr Wolfe who fuelled their fear.
“The anti-vax lobbies and groups are very smart today. They use information in a way that sounds correct, but if you follow that through you can see where the holes in this logic and this thinking are,” Dr Mackay said.
“It’s important for us as a community to read around these things and seek out the right information from trustworthy sources, not from someone standing and yelling loudly who is trying to trick you.
“The anti-vaxxers want to somehow play on your fears, that conspiracy theory, but there’s no truth to it.”